May Mental Health Awareness
In honor of mental health awareness month, the team at Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health wanted to address the alienation persons served often experience before seeking help. Feeling alone or like the “only one” is common when experiencing depression, anxiety, grief and loss. The isolation that often comes with the symptoms of depression, anxiety, grief/loss separates us further. The isolation initially may feel safe, but over time, the isolation becomes a wall, a barrier.
At Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health, our primary form of treatment is group therapy. Our clinicians are well versed in DBT, CBT, ACT and many other models of effective forms of psychotherapy. Persons served are often initially fearful of joining a group. The people are strangers after all. In many ways because we do not know those in the group, is precisely why group therapy works. Group therapy is an accelerated microcosm of the real world- a safe world, a sacred space where all the work is done in this space. At Jefferson Oaks, we emphasize the importance of the confidentiality of the group and the no connection “rule” outside of group to keep the space free of outside influence and to keep the focus within. Also, this “rule” decreases the risk of trying to help each other when the patients in the group are often in a vulnerable place.
Those in the groups at Jefferson Oaks are in different stages of the therapeutic journey. Some are nearing graduation, some are beginners, some are midway. This creates a beautiful balance of support as those who are just arriving need the most support and those that are later in the process have new tools and are generally feeling stronger and ready to return to their lives with a renewed sense of purpose. In this way, persons served truly connect and support each other as they move through the group therapy process.
Group therapy is essential to the therapeutic process. We are social beings and being separated from others hurts. The need for the “group” is innate to humans. We have met in groups in circles since the beginning. We still meet in the circle at Jefferson Oaks as this shape helps further unite us and enables us truly “see” each other. The ritual of the group space becomes a place of safety, vulnerability and honesty. For without vulnerability there can be little honesty. In closing, I often tell patients to try one group. Listen and observe. Just being with others is often therapeutic after feeling alone for so long. The act of being seen itself is healing. We all need to be seen, noticed and supported. We all need our groups